This weekend I braved the coronation traffic and sneaked in a visit to Tate Modern.  My reason for going was to see the Hilma af Klint/Piet Mondrian retrospective (more about that later), but on my way through the gallery I was pulled by curiosity into Vivan Sundaram’s installation Memorial.

“Vivan Sundaram’s installation acts as memorial, monument and tomb for an unknown victim” Tate Modern

A photograph of an unknown victim of the 1992/3 Bombay riots as published in the Times of India newspaper following the demolition of a 16th Century Muslim mosque by Hindu nationalists who claimed it was built on the birthplace of their deity Rama.

Layers of the found object, physical seperation from the actual experience of the riot, and the distance between that and reality is reflected in teh distance placed between the viewer and the image by physical interventions adn barriers.

I was particularly affected by the different uses of nails in the work.  Inverted nails with their spikes pointing threateningly towards me as I approached the image reminded me of my Western inability to get close to, or fully relate with, these events and to tread carefully within the protected memories of those who had.

The nailed border around other images made me feel I was witnessing mourners at the scene, encircling the victim and forming a barrier of respect and sorrow.

This resonated with my own current project adding layers to childhood photographic memories through distortion and additional elements for the viewer to navigate.  Knowing that in doing so they can never fully see the truth of the experience.



I knew I wanted a drawing element to my degree show to work alongside the photographic element.  In thinking about this side of my practice, I have considered the hierarchies of my drawing.  What is most important to me in the work?  Is it the line, the tone, the details, the materials, the subject matter, or just the concept?

Returning again to artists such as Rachel Goodyear, I begin to understand the importance of stepping back from filling in every detail and taking time to make decisions on the next marks based on the overall atmosphere and narrative I am aiming to bring forward.

The concept behind the drawings I am currently working on is one of the lost voice of the inner child due to aging and trauma response and also the lost authenticity of the child due to unacknowledged neurodiversity.  Initially, I was going to have full drawings, including coloured animals to represent the outer masking of the inner persona.  However, upon sketching out the ideas, it quickly became clear that the animals would detract and add too much noise to the important point of the work.

Following this I began the drawings by working on the bit I was most worried about (with a view to it being easier to start over if it all went wrong) and began with the greyscale skin tones with a view to filling in all the other details later.  However, after seeing the skin tones in place against the minimalist sketched clothing, there is a part of me that wonders if I want to give much more substance to the rest of it.   What does it add?  What is the relevance of the clothing in the grand scheme of the narrative?

Portrait artist Alice Neel’s 1965 work James Hunter (Black Draftee) is a brilliant example of listening to the work and knowing when to lay down your paintbrush.   The painting was not physically finished, but Neel signed it and displayed it.  For her, the emotional story of the piece was complete.   The sitter, James Hunter, had just been drafted to the Vietnam War when he sat for the portrait, and his melancholy demeanor at the news is perfectly captured.    He never returned to sit for the remainder of the painting.